Merchants, officials tour central Glen Burnie

March 07, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Sherry Mercer would like passers-by to see the sign for her store, the Neatest Little Shop, after the trees bloom in spring.

The county could do something about that, said County Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks. He'd ask Anne Arundel County to prune its trees in downtown Glen Burnie so they don't obscure business signs.

Ms. Mercer was among a dozen business operators who led Mr. Middlebrooks and Patricia Barland, the county's commercial revitalization manager, on a walking tour of the area Friday to point out problems and help devise solutions.

"I thought they did have some very good ideas," Ms. Mercer said.

Mr. Middlebrooks, a Severn Democrat, promised to look into several other requests shopkeepers had: improved lighting, greater security and better customer parking.

Merchants agreed that they need to work together to help themselves, especially to make the downtown area attractive in hopes of drawing more customers and filling vacant storefronts. Most already clean up the street near their stores and will consider putting and maintaining half-barrel planters of flowers on the sidewalks.

As they walked past his property on Crain Highway near Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, business people told property owner Jim Pappas that his small lot there needed something on it besides gravel and puddles.

"Is there any way you could put grass on it?" asked Sigrid Kingsbury, who manages the nearby real estate office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn.

They struck a handshake deal: If his negotiations to put a building there fall through, he will have the gravel cleared.

"Homeless men will come clean up your lot," offered Peggy Vick, director of the Salvation Army in Glen Burnie. The men also would paint over graffiti on the sides of buildings if owners would supply paint, she said.

The tour, which lasted a little more than an hour, stemmed from a January meeting that county officials had with business owners in Glen Burnie's core.

As they walked in the rain, merchants pointed to five vacant stores in a row on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. Those shops fell victim to several problems that typify the downtown district, they said. There was not enough street parking; it was too hard to cross four lanes of heavy traffic to the free garage across the street; lighting was insufficient; and the garage had been the scene of so much vandalism that people feared leaving a car there.

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